The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel is a locked room mystery that will have you thinking of Poe and the Rue Morgue investigation.
Inspector Ian Frey has problems. A shake up at Scotland Yard has his position in jeopardy, his father is a bully, his older brother is sly and devious, and his fiancee has just ended their engagement. What else could go wrong?
Why, he could be sent to Scotland, the land of the primitive and uncouth Scots. For Frey, an arrogant snob, this is tantamount to perdition. To make matters worse, his partner is "Nine Nails" McGray, who heads the unusual department for investigating the supernatural.
The two mismatched protagonists allow the author to make fun of both characters and of some of the cultural views of the Victorian period. A touch overdone, perhaps, but as this is the first in a new series, hopefully the author will make adjustments that tone the exaggerations down a bit. It has potential. :)
Historic Mystery. May 2, 2016. Print length: 412 pages.
Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen is a novel about families and communities, a beautifully written coming-of-age story. Pulling you in slowly, Quindlen concentrates on the small world that Mary Margaret (Mimi) Miller inhabits--her family, friends, and her initially limited understanding of the threat of imminent domain.
The government wants to flood the valley, but they are not in a great hurry. Some folks don't believe it will ever happen, but as the years go by, and the valley experiences serious flooding, more and more families agree to sell.
It is a slow book, a quiet book, and there is not a great deal of action. Quindlen develops the characters and the daily routines and personalities of those who live in the small community of Miller's Valley.
The story is told from Mimi's point of view as she looks back on her childhood in the '60's, through high school and college. In the present, she reviews the history of her family and of the slow acceptance that their town will become one of "drowned towns."
Literary Fiction. April 5, 2016. Print length: 273 pages.
The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber is set in Scotland in the 1830's and features Lady Kiera Darby, an artist who was forced by her husband to attend dissections and make drawings. After her husband's death, people discover that Kiera is the artist behind the drawings and call her unnatural. Offered sanctuary by her sister and her husband, Kiera attempts to stay out of the public eye, but a murder causes more accusations against her.
If you like Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series, you might enjoy this book which offers a mystery and a little romance. It is the first in the Lady Darby series, and I will read another to see if there is more depth in the next installment. I had some problems with several things that did not seem appropriate for the 1830 time period. Sometimes, though, an author has to get her feet a little wet before characters and settings begin to gel, so I'll check with the library for Mortal Arts which sounds interesting.
It was entertaining, but I like Imogen Robertson's series with Harriet Westerman and the reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther better.
Historic Mystery. 2012. 369 pages.